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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    ARTISTIC    LIFE                   279

and infinitely variable without ever exhausting its forms. In
other words, nature's beauty is a dynamic, and not a static,
beauty.

It is exactly this beauty of movement which is the key to
Chinese calligraphy. Its beauty is dynamic and not static, and
because it expresses a dynamic beauty, a beauty of momentum, it
lives, and it, too, is infinitely variable without exhaustion. A
swift, sure stroke is appreciated because it is made swiftly and
powerfully at one stroke, thus possessing a unity of movement,
defying imitation or correction, for any correction is im-
mediately detected as disharmonious. Incidentally, that is
why calligraphy as an art is so difficult

That the ascribing of beauty in Chinese calligraphy to the
ammistic principle is not my own fancy can be proved from
Chinese references to the "meat/* "bones" and "tendons" of
strokes, although their philosophic import has never been
consciously laid bare until one comes to think of ways and
means by which calligraphy can be made intelligible to the
West. Thus Madame Wei, tie talented aunt of Wang Hsichih,
said:

In the writing of those who are skilful in giving strength
of stroke, the characters are "bony"; in the writing of those
who are not skilful in giving strength of strokes, the char-
acters are "fleshy." Writing that has a great deal of bone
and very little meat is called "sinewy writing," and writing
that is foil of flesh and weak bones is called "piggy writing."
A writing that is powerful and sinewy is divine; a writing
that has neither power nor sinews is like an invalid.

The dynamic principle of movement results in a principle
of structure which is essential to an understanding of Chinese
calligraphy. The mere beauty of balance and symmetry is
never regarded as the highest form. One of the principles of
Chinese writing is that a square should never be a perfect
square, but should be higher on one side than the other, and
that two symmetrical parts should never be exactly similar in
size and position. This principle is called shift, or "posture,"
which represents a beauty of momentum. The result is that,